Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/37

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shaken, like a man who'd been just knocked down and winded.

Captain Ross felt a sudden vast relief. What an ass he was! Good heavens; he'd actually felt afraid, afraid of good old Tom Everett! The poor fellow was looking ill and shaken. Distinctly under the weather. He signaled to Doctor Fielding, who came round to the head of the table and put a hand on the colonel's shoulder.

"Come along with me; I'll fix you up. You've had a rotten night, I can see."

Dazed, swaying on his feet, Colonel Everett allowed the doctor to guide him out of the saloon.

In the big, perfectly equipped kitchens the breakfast episode was discussed with terror.

"I tell you he looked as like him for a minute as makes no difference." The steward who waited on the captain's table was telling his tale for the eighth time for the benefit of those detained on duty. "One minute he was the colonel and next minute he was him! The Old Man noticed it and all! Looked as if he'd been and swallowed a h'asp."

A brand new young steward spoke up. "Who's this him when he's at home?"

"Someone you've not met so far, my cocky. And when you do, you won't crow so loud."

Mrs. Maddox, trying to drown her fear in floods of dark brown tea, intervened.

"And how's he going to know if no one don't tell him? Nay! I'm not going to take his name on my lips. Someone else can do it—that hasn't heard nor seen what I have on this ship."

Mr. Amyas and the doctor talked in a corner of the deserted dining-saloon.

"He went along to the smoking-room. Revived as soon as we got outside, and refused to go back to bed."

"Hm-m-m!" The little man pulled at his short, pointed white beard. "Could you hear what he was saying to the captain at the breakfast table?"

"No. I saw enough, though. What the boy said was right. He ipas Vernon for a moment."

"Undoubtedly, Colonel Everett as Colonel Everett will soon cease to exist."

The doctor shivered, turned a stricken face seaward. Remembrance of last year's horror surged back with every movement of the restless, sunlit water.

"Eldred Vernon's taking possession of the colonel's body as one would a house. He's moving in," continued Mr. Amyas. "It's barely possible that if the real owner knew what was happening to him he might defend his habitation, drive out the intruder, but I doubt it. Evidence proves Vernon to have unique power. History has only produced two others on his scale. There is the Black Monk of Caldey Island, who has guarded his treasure there since the Tenth Century. And there is Lord Saul, a terror and a mystery since the days of Attila, who tried to kill him by fire and by the sword, and failed. Lord Saul lives to this day."

"Vernon was bound and safely imprisoned once. Can't we do it again?"

"You forget. A year ago Vernon was newly divorced from his body. He was taken at his weakest, before he'd learned the laws, the possibilities of life in a new element. In twelve months he's learned them, so effectively that he's almost achieved his great necessity—a human body."

"Surety that will limit him? A disembodied force is more awful than the wickedest of men."

"No. He'll gain the freedom of two worlds. He can operate in or out of his stolen body. And he can use the will and energy of the dispossessed owner for his